Dutch oven bread is an incredibly easy way to make homemade bread. There is very little to do, and the result is astonishing: a round beautiful delicious loaf of bread, which in French we call “pain de campagne” (literally “countryside bread”). The only thing you need is a dutch oven. The bread bakes inside the dutch oven, placed in the oven. No bread machine required, and you can use any flour you wish. Amazing!
A few notes about the recipe
My recipe is inspired by this French recipe, yet somewhat different. I used my food processor with a dough blade to knead the bread, which took less than 5 minutes. However, if you do not have a food processor, you can knead by hand, it will just take longer.
Because the dutch oven is placed in the oven at high temperature for 1 hour, the best kind of dutch oven to use is a cast iron dutch oven. I have this one:
I used fresh yeast, as I find that it makes for a softer crumb (the inside of the bread). However, if you can’t find fresh yeast in your area, you can use dry yeast. In that case, use 1 envelope of dry yeast.
Knead all ingredients together. (I used my food processor with a dough blade on, and it took a little less than 5 minutes. Depending on your food processor, it might take anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes. You can also knead by hand.) The result should be a uniform dough that you can easily make a ball with (see picture).
Put the dough in a big bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let it rest covered for 1 hour. During that time, the dough will rise (see picture).
Apply your fist multiple times to the dough to remove any gas that may be in the dough. Flatten the dough with your hands, and make it into the shape of your dutch oven (usually an oval or circle). Cover the inside of your dutch oven with parchment paper, and place the dough in the dutch oven. Apply a little bit of water on the dough (you can do this with a pastry brush.) With a knife, make some incisions on the dough. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on the dough. See picture.
Close the dutch oven (lid on), and place it in your oven on the middle rack. Then, turn on the oven to 460 degrees Fahrenheit. (Note: do not preheat the oven. You start with a cold oven.) Bake for 1 hour. During that hour, do not open the dutch oven. Once the baking process is done, immediately take the bread out of the dutch oven and let it cool down on a cooling rack. Enjoy warm or cold!